The question has been popped, and the answer - a resounding "Yes!" - has been given. So now the planning begins in earnest. The last thing a harried bride-to-be needs is to run to bridal salons all over town comparing prices on her gown and attendants' dresses - or to be saddled with marked-up prices and lackluster service.
The average wedding now costs nearly $20,000, according to Denise and Alan Fields, nationally-known "wedding watchdogs" who have appeared on the "Today" show, "Oprah" and "Dateline NBC." But, as they point out in their book "Bridal Bargains," just because you want a reasonable price on the wedding gown of your dreams doesn't mean you have to sacrifice the advice and service of a personal consultant.
One way to get the best of both worlds is through Discount Bridal Service, Inc., a personal buying service for brides. Discount Bridal Service (DBS) is a national network of dealers that offer 20 percent to 40 percent discounts on most nationally-advertised bridal attire.
Once the bride-to-be has found the gown or gowns she wants, she simply contacts a local DBS dealer who then orders the gown, recommends a local seamstress, and has it shipped wherever the bride elects. All gowns go through a 25-point inspection process, but the local dealer is available should any problem arise. Because DBS representatives do not work from expensive shops with inventory and other overhead expenses, savings on first-quality gowns can be passed on to the bride - just the one who needs the savings in light of all the wedding expenses.
DBS was started in 1985 by people with extensive experience in the retail bridal market. Their belief was that brides should have the opportunity of working on a personal basis with caring and knowledgeable people when ordering bridal attire at discounted prices. With access to more than 90 percent of the bridal manufacturing market, nearly any gown a bride-to-be has seen in a salon or in a wedding magazine can be ordered through a DBS dealer. Industry insiders all say that while they may not like the fact that their gowns are discounted, DBS has a very credible reputation and is well known for its excellent service.
"The majority of my business comes from referrals," says Debra Goldwater, a DBS dealer and area manager in California. "Brides will send their friends, their bridesmaids and others who are in their weddings to me when it's time. I think it's a great testimonial to the savings and personal service DBS offers."
Goldwater says DBS dealers can offer one-on-one service that brides can't get online or in a salon, and during a busy and stressful time, that can be invaluable. "We become better than a best friend for them," she says. "We can provide in-depth information, recommendations and an objective viewpoint that, sometimes, best friends just can't provide. "
Many DBS dealers also provide other services including veils, invitations, tuxedos, jewelry, shoes, bridal accessories, wedding consulting and other bridal-related merchandise. These products and services are also discounted. So working through a qualified DBS dealer can save time as well as money.
Discount Bridal Service can be reached at (800) 441-0102 or by visiting its Web site at www.discountbridalservice.com.